I Remember When: Do You Remember?

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Host Ted Trost introduces I Remember When, a seven-part film series about Ann Arbor history created in conjunction with the city's sesquicentennial celebrations in 1974. In this episode, titled "Do You Remember?," Trost takes viewers on a tour of Ann Arbor history through photographic images of early settlers, churches, and businesses; the Ann Arbor Police Force; University of Michigan football and campus; Drake's Sandwich Shop; the construction of Nichol's Arcade; the Arcade Theater; and the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Trost also talks with University of Michigan Professor Douglas Crary, chair of the Sesquicentennial Commission, about how Ann Arbor got its name, the Sesquicentennial Commission's goals, and its companion book, Ann Arbor Sesquicentennial Journal.

Produced and Directed by Dale E. Throneberry
Executive Producer : Catherine Anderson
Graphic Artist: Darcy E. Engholm
Sponsored by the Ann Arbor Public Library, with help from the Ann Arbor Sesquicentennial Commission and the University of Michigan Speech Department.

Length: 00:29:50
Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)
Rights Held by: Ann Arbor District Library
Repository Information: Ann Arbor District Library Archives


  • [00:00:00.00]
  • [00:00:10.10] SPEAKER 1: This is Ann Arbor, 150 years old on May 24, 1974. Hi I'm Ted Trost, and welcome to "I Remember When," the first in a series of programs telling the story of the important events have happened in Ann Arbor's 150-year-old history. This series is sponsored by the Ann Arbor Public Library, in cooperation with the Ann Arbor sesquicentennial committee, to whom we express our thanks.
  • [00:00:47.08] We would also like to express our thanks to students from the speech department of the University of Michigan who produced these programs. The entire series will be recorded on videotape so that future generations of Ann Arborites may see and hear what it was like way back when in 1974, the year Ann Arbor celebrated her sesquicentennial. During the next few weeks, we'll be talking with some of the people who remember those events and who played a part in shaping Ann Arbor's history.
  • [00:01:18.81] Join me now as we take a nostalgic look at the past and meet some of the people who helped create Ann Arbor's history. Do you remember?
  • [00:01:30.88] [MUSIC PLAYING]
  • [00:03:04.63] SPEAKER 2: Is he ready?
  • [00:03:28.42] SPEAKER 1: Do you remember the names of John Allen and Elisha Rumsey? Well, these revered gentleman founded what is presently downtown Ann Arbor on February 6, 1824. They laid claim to the land six days later. We don't really know why Allen and Rumsey came to Michigan territory.
  • [00:03:49.37] According to O.W. Stevenson in his book Ann Arbor: The First 100 Years, Allen, who was living in Virginia at the time suddenly decided he was going to go west and seek his fortune. He didn't even tell his wife where it was going until weeks afterwards. He had always cherished the dream of going west, but nobody took him seriously.
  • [00:04:09.77] In fact, his wife, Ann, didn't join him in what is now Ann Arbor until October of 1824. We know even less about Elisha Rumsey. He happened to meet Allen in Cleveland. And he was attracted to Allen and his ideas and intrigued with one particular idea, that of founding a town of the wilds of lower Michigan. His wife Marianne, who preferred to be called Ann, was with him at the time.
  • [00:04:37.38] And so she accompanied her husband and Allen as they set out to establish a town in Michigan. It's interesting to learn how Ann Arbor got her name. Did you note there's no other town of the world that has the same name as Ann Arbor, Michigan? Well, according to Lila Duff in her book Ann Arbor Yesterdays, the story was making the rounds at the turn of the century, centering on the person of David Hackett, who, at age 92, returned to Ann Arbor after spending 70 years in Texas.
  • [00:05:11.82] Hackett was an interesting chap, who made a very interesting claim. He said that long before Allen happened to show up, there was in this region a very beautiful woman with long black hair, who guided the settlers through the wilderness. Her name was Ann d'Arbeur. And she was so beloved by the settlers that they inscribed her name on a rock somewhere in the Huron River.
  • [00:05:44.89] Now, Hackett came back to Ann Arbor and went out to verify his claim by looking for the rock. He could not find it, but he still said his claim was true, only that weathering had erased her name from the rock. It's certainly a delightful story, but that's all it is. How did Ann Arbor get her name?
  • [00:06:06.75] Well, this much we do know. There was a natural arbor at the corner of First and Huron streets. Here, Ann Rumsey, the wife of Elisha, would often sit and do her work. It was truly Ann's Arbor. And this is the most probable explanation of how Ann Arbor got her name.
  • [00:06:27.65] The town was named for Ann Rumsey. So Allen and Rumsey have founded a town. The town has a name, which is Ann Arbor. It's 1824.
  • [00:06:42.24] And within the next three years, the town would grow. If you happened to be standing on the banks of the Huron River in 1827, this is what you might see-- a dam being constructed, the construction of a grist mill. And by the end of 1827, if you went to downtown Ann Arbor, you'd find eight different stores, you'd find some sawmills, several taverns, and three grist mill, and also of course, a blacksmith shop.
  • [00:07:14.15] The population was around 400 plus. And in two years, it would be nearly 900. Let's take a look now at some of the buildings from Ann Arbor's yesteryears and also look at pictures of some of our city's community leaders.
  • [00:07:43.44] We talked about this couple just a few moments ago. And here they are-- John and Ann Allen. Both pictures were taken in their later years. In fact, the picture of John Allen was taken in 1849, just prior to his leaving for the California gold fields. John was always looking for another mountain to climb, but he never made it back to Ann Arbor, dying in San Francisco in 1851.
  • [00:08:07.90] Unfortunately, we were unable to find any surviving photos of Elisha and Ann Rumsey. Ann Arbor grew rapidly over the next few years, and one of the earliest buildings was the first assembly house in Michigan, built by the early German Americans. This one was built in 1833 and was the forerunner of the present day Bethlehem United Church of Christ, the earliest German church in Michigan.
  • [00:08:32.90] As mentioned previously, by 1829, the population of Ann Arbor had grown to almost 900. And commerce had come into its own, as we can see here in this early photo of Main Street. The future site of the Ann Arbor Trust Company is here on the right, where that shed spans the wooden sidewalk. The original town had grown to include an area known as Lower Town on the North side of the Huron River.
  • [00:08:57.74] One of its first buildings was known as Huron Block, located on Broadway, directly across from the Exchange building on the corner of Broadway and Pontiac Trail. The exchange was built in 1832 and still stands. The Huron Block was raised several years ago and has been replaced by a restaurant. In this other picture of early downtown Ann Arbor taken in 1862, we see the future home of Muehlig's Fabric Store and Goodyear's department store, located on the Northwest corner of Main and Washington.
  • [00:09:32.96] 42 years after its founding, a map of Ann Arbor would look like this-- quite a difference. By 1870, the town was becoming a thriving little metropolis, home of a great university and fast becoming the cultural center of the Midwest. Looking at the town in the latter part of the 19th century, we find wide streets with many different kinds of businesses lining the thoroughfares.
  • [00:09:58.33] Here we are looking east on Huron from where the county building is now located. Loft in New York-- that was the name of the big show at the opera house in this photo from the early 1890s. This is Main Street again. Do you notice the electric lights hanging over the street?
  • [00:10:16.25] Ann Arbor always has been a very progressive community. This is Dr. Chase's steam printing house on the corner of Main and Miller. The good doctor wanted to go into the printing business after he wrote a country-wide best-seller on home remedies, entitled Dr. Chase's Recipe Book. The best-seller brought him fame and fortune, for a while at least. He later lost everything in bad business deals.
  • [00:10:46.23] Another building of the same style and era was the Gregory House, later to become the municipal court building. The huge building was located at the corner of Main and Huron, where the mini park is today. Sometimes Ann Arbor buildings seemed to have been torn down as quickly as they went up. Welcome to Ann Arbor's west side.
  • [00:11:08.57] The occasion-- German-American Day, 1870. There have always been many ethnic groups living around Ann Arbor right from the very beginning. And we'll be taking a closer look at some of these people on later programs. But back to German American Day-- that's John Haarer's photography gallery on the left. And the reason it's important is because by 1893, the Haarer and Walker buildings had replaced the old wooden structures of 1870. And the Ann Arbor sesquicentennial headquarters are presently located in the building to the left of Walker's Carriage Works.
  • [00:11:46.52] I mentioned the German-Americans before. Did you know that there used to be a German-American bank in town, later merging with the state savings bank in 1916? Today, this bank is known as the Ann Arbor National Bank and Trust Company. In 1890, Wagner and Company tried to attract business by displaying a new safety bicycle in its window.
  • [00:12:11.12] I wonder if business really picked up or not. Goodyear's had grown quite a bit by 1890. The way we understand it, Goodyear's and Saint James were partners but later split up, Saint James eventually becoming Muehlig's Fabric Shop. Both stores are still in business.
  • [00:12:31.35] It's now the turn of the century, and although we didn't have refrigerators yet, we certainly had an ice house. This ice house was located west of town near Argo Pond. Not to be without first-class public lodging, the Allenel Hotel was opened in 1911. It used to be known as the Cook House before they remodeled it.
  • [00:12:52.64] The Allenel was torn down about 10 years ago has been replaced by a newer, more modern hotel at the corner of Huron and Fourth. Don't blame that newfangled horseless carriage for those messes on Liberty. As Will Rogers once noted, "Ann Arbor was never a one horse town." The Ann Arbor Police force today is a large and efficient organization, but back in 1880, though no less efficient, it was quite a bit smaller.
  • [00:13:22.56] By 1908, we had a modern police force that had doubled its size. I wouldn't want to mess with any of those constables. In addition to the police force, Ann Arbor also had its first full time fire department by 1900. It just happened to be housed in the same building that it is in today, on the corner of Huron and Fifth. The University of Michigan came to Ann Arbor in 1837, and this is what the campus looked like in 1870.
  • [00:13:51.88] The view is from the corner of State and North University. Notice the turnstile in the lower left corner. You had to go through it if you wanted to get on the campus. And the turnstile also kept the cows out.
  • [00:14:05.24] Until mechanical lawn mowers were invented, the grass crop was harvested just one a year. And that was done by a janitor as part of his yearly wages. Some of the more interesting old buildings on campus were the old medical school, which really looked more like a Greek revival temple. This building burned down in 1914.
  • [00:14:26.92] Part of the medical school was this anatomy laboratory, built in 1887. I wonder how many creepy stories could be told about this place? In 1900, the diag, which cuts across the main Michigan campus, looked like this. Note the fountain, which is no longer there, and the old chemistry building, which is still used for classrooms.
  • [00:14:50.35] Hail to the victors-- Michigan football in 1900 was much the same as it is today. The Wolverines just kept on winning. In 1902, under the leadership of Fielding H. Yost, Michigan outscored her opponents 644 to 12. Oh, cry your heart out, Bo.
  • [00:15:10.06] One old tradition that has passed from the scene is the annual inter-class frosh soft push ball contest, held at Ferry Field. This one took place in 1907. But I'm afraid I can't tell who finally won.
  • [00:15:24.63] And here we see a young college man supposedly collecting a wager from a co-Ed in 1905. I wonder what the bet was all about. And we've all heard about bee in your bonnet. How about this-- an Ann Arbor high school girl in 1892 walking down State Street with an entire bird on her bonnet?
  • [00:15:46.40] Most Michigan students think that Drake's Sandwich Shop has been around forever. Actually, it wasn't opened until 1929. How do you like those fancy delivery trucks? The Nickels Arcade was and still is an architectural wonder of sorts.
  • [00:16:04.03] Here, construction is just beginning in 1915. The Farmers and Merchants bank was originally on State Street. And in fact, the old bank vault is still in the basement of the camping supply store that's there now.
  • [00:16:19.48] Hollywood came to Ann Arbor in 1914, with the Arcade Theater on North University Ann Arbor has had many theaters before this, but the Arcade was the first movie house. The Ringing Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus included even Ann Arbor in its schedule in the early 1900s. Entertainment in Ann Arbor will be one of the topics to be covered on a future program.
  • [00:16:43.56] And we'll also be talking about education in Ann Arbor on a future program. This, of course, is the old Ann Arbor High School in 1885. It was located on the corner of State and Huron, but it burned down in 1904, only to be replaced by what is now the Frieze Building, home of the University of Michigan Speech Department, where we are producing this program.
  • [00:17:08.65] Ann Arbor was a beautiful growing town at the turn of the century, but there was still plenty of countryside around. As you can see, as we look out Pontiac Trail and Plymouth Road in 1920. The citizens were a simple, easygoing sort of folk, who loved Ann Arbor as much as we do and enjoyed those Sunday afternoon drives, again as much as we do. The train you see now symbolizes progress.
  • [00:17:38.36] And that's just another way of saying that Ann Arbor has come a long way over the last 150 years. Our town has progressed from a mere opening in the woods to a wonderful city of over 100,000 beautiful people. So very fortunate today to have in our studio professor Doug Crary, who is chairman of the Ann Arbor sesquicentennial commission.
  • [00:18:12.10] And he's here to talk to us about this great celebration, which we are recording on videotape. Welcome to the program, Doug. Very good to have you here.
  • [00:18:21.41] SPEAKER 3: Thank you for asking me.
  • [00:18:22.43] SPEAKER 1: You first came to Ann Arbor in 1929. Isn't that right?
  • [00:18:25.95] SPEAKER 3: As a freshman.
  • [00:18:27.01] SPEAKER 1: And you've been here 45 years. You must have seen a lot of changes during a time.
  • [00:18:32.90] SPEAKER 3: It's awkward to say this a little bit, but when I came 45 years ago, Ann Arbor had 35,000 people, including students, which is just about the size of the university today, in a city of 100,000.
  • [00:18:48.40] SPEAKER 1: Yes, and you served in the faculty of geography, did you not?
  • [00:18:51.84] SPEAKER 3: Yes.
  • [00:18:52.78] SPEAKER 1: And now you're working harder than ever as chairman of the Sesquicentennial Committee.
  • [00:18:57.34] SPEAKER 3: It's been a full-time job.
  • [00:18:59.34] SPEAKER 1: You've had an opportunity a little earlier to see our film. And there still seems to be this squabble about how Ann Arbor got her name. What are your thoughts on that subject?
  • [00:19:08.32] SPEAKER 3: I wouldn't call it a squabble so much as a matter of interpretation. It's so easy to think of the word "arbor" in the conventional sense of what we're familiar with. But actually, in the early part of the 19th century, the word "arbour--" A-R-B-O-U-R, was a term for an opening in the forest.
  • [00:19:30.70] SPEAKER 1: That's interesting.
  • [00:19:32.05] SPEAKER 3: Vegetation formation, the oak openings of Southern Michigan, which we still know, but the names of the Anns were very real. And the Allen and Rumsey did indeed name their community after their wives. But it's a little difficult to think of pioneer wives spending much time knitting in an arbour, having tea or something of this sort. I think they were much too busy for that.
  • [00:20:01.49] SPEAKER 1: Well, it's a good name.
  • [00:20:02.76] SPEAKER 3: But the arbor, as it was registered in Detroit, ran together one word, Annarbour, and has now since evolved into Ann Arbor.
  • [00:20:12.57] SPEAKER 1: Now, we're celebrating 140 years of history. Let me ask you this, Doug.
  • [00:20:19.02] SPEAKER 3: 150.
  • [00:20:20.52] SPEAKER 1: 150th anniversary. But when did the idea get started?
  • [00:20:25.77] SPEAKER 3: About two years ago, exactly two years ago, in the city council, looking forward to the fact that the sesquicentennial year was coming up and the council and mayor saw fit to appoint a sesquicentennial commission. There were 44 people, citizens across the city. And subsequently, I happen to have been sandbagged into becoming its chairman, more or less.
  • [00:20:55.34] And we spent all last year, all 1973, as a commission, in meetings, deciding how we would celebrate the 150th anniversary year.
  • [00:21:06.62] SPEAKER 1: And the people that were working on a commission represented diverse groups within Ann Arbor today?
  • [00:21:10.58] SPEAKER 3: Yes, they went quite across the city. But it does eventually boiled down to about 20 who were consistent in their effort. And from that group and from the entire commission, we organized a number of committees that had different phases to do with finance, with publicity, with events, with beatification, and that sort of thing. And these various committees have sort of spread out and have been doing their jobs.
  • [00:21:40.67] SPEAKER 1: Well, let me ask, how did the committee decide the program would be financed?
  • [00:21:47.94] SPEAKER 3: Well, we obviously need money, particularly to finance the publication of the Sesquicentennial Journal.
  • [00:21:56.65] SPEAKER 1: Tell us about that.
  • [00:21:57.58] SPEAKER 3: That journal is distributed at no cost to the public, through the courtesy of the Ann Arbor News. It's been coming out on the last Saturday of each month, a little irregularly more recently, but nonetheless there are 12 issues. And with paper costs and editorial costs and publication costs, we publish 30,000 copies. And that doesn't come for nothing.
  • [00:22:29.34] So we have been financing particularly that effort, along with other contributions to some of the events that we've had and where we have some bills to pay and our utilities and so on, through the sale of silver bars, which are obtainable at the banks. These are for $8. They make lovely Christmas presents to hang.
  • [00:22:53.52] SPEAKER 1: What's on the front there?
  • [00:22:55.17] SPEAKER 3: The Fire House and the new City Hall. So we have the old and the new, the juxtaposition. And on the backside is the sesquicentennial logo and the university logo. And it says Ann Arbor, Michigan. And it's kind of nice, because the two are sort of inseparable.
  • [00:23:13.13] But this is one of our major means of financing the celebration, plus the pictorial history of Ann Arbor, which we have published, a history book, the first one since Stevenson's book, but illustrated 140 pages of Ann Arbor from 1824 to 1974 so that it covers the whole 150. It's just not a book of old pictures. It's truly a history.
  • [00:23:46.90] The proceeds from the sale of that accrue to our bank.
  • [00:23:50.54] SPEAKER 1: In the newspaper supplement here, we find, I'm sure, interesting stories about Ann Arbor's past?
  • [00:23:55.23] SPEAKER 3: The journal is the story of Ann Arbor, as told by its people.
  • [00:23:59.69] SPEAKER 1: That's what we want to do on this program, you know?
  • [00:24:01.31] SPEAKER 3: And we have many contributors. It's perhaps the 12 issues. And we do have a binder for them that can be acquired. So they make a nice set. And again, as a presentation piece, I can think of nothing nicer to give to anyone newly arrived in Ann Arbor, because it begins at the beginning and goes through not only historically, but all the facets of Ann Arbor and all of the various elements that come together to make Ann Arbor what it is.
  • [00:24:29.81] SPEAKER 1: Now, as we look back over this year, 1974, what have been some of the exciting events in connection with the celebration of the sesquicentennial?
  • [00:24:40.08] SPEAKER 3: The commission decided early not to have an outside producer come in to put in a--
  • [00:24:46.31] SPEAKER 1: This is locally produced, right?
  • [00:24:48.24] SPEAKER 3: Yes. We felt that Ann Arbor was sufficiently important in its own right and had enough to it so that we could capitalize on that which already exists. We have sponsored a few events, some open houses, a birthday party on May 25, Heron River Day on September 15, which was just great when the police and the fire department had their tug of war across the Huron River and that sort of thing, and other events of various kinds.
  • [00:25:20.06] But the really important part of participation in which the Commission has encouraged was to get every individual and every organization as possible involved in some way. It was rather a presumption on the part of the commission to add a whole new program on top of the already very busy and very consuming time demands the people already, when you go to four different things in the same night, all within a few hundred yards of each other.
  • [00:25:50.04] So we have encouraged existing groups with ongoing programs to do their thing in sesquicentennial terms. And the response has been absolutely tremendous.
  • [00:26:02.03] SPEAKER 1: I bet that brings you a great deal of personal satisfaction.
  • [00:26:03.58] SPEAKER 3: A father brought his son into headquarters and said, I've learned more about Ann Arbor history from what my children have been bringing home from school, which means that the school system has just really done a wonderful job. The Civic Theatre, the Symphony Orchestra have all had salutes. The University Musical Society recognized the sesquicentennial.
  • [00:26:27.47] And the countless organizations, and I couldn't begin to enumerate them, that have done something that they wouldn't have done because it's the sesquicentennial.
  • [00:26:38.28] SPEAKER 1: Now, just one last question I'd like to ask you, and that concerns your hopes for the City of Ann Arbor in the future. What is it that you hope, quite briefly?
  • [00:26:48.58] SPEAKER 3: Due to the sesquicentennial, we have got a lot of things going. And the historic preservation movement has been developing. People have been thinking about things that they have been doing. And let's just not drop them. And I'm thinking largely in terms of a total community effort to working toward those things which are worthy of the city, being the great city that it is.
  • [00:27:18.11] So much participation has been as a result of controversy. People are for something or against something in their issues. But here are things that have been generated by the sesquicentennial. And I think the job from now on is to keep that momentum up--
  • [00:27:33.08] SPEAKER 1: And I would agree with you.
  • [00:27:34.07] SPEAKER 3: And to have people working together.
  • [00:27:38.40] SPEAKER 1: Thank you so much, Doug Crary, for being with us. We really appreciate your willingness to come and speak with us. We've been speaking with Professor Doug Crary, who is chairman of the Ann Arbor Sesquicentennial Commission. Thanks again.
  • [00:27:53.77] SPEAKER 3: Thanks, Ted
  • [00:00:00.00]
  • [00:28:01.03] [MUSIC PLAYING]

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